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Ransomware: The Threat for Supply Chains

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Ransomware is a dangerous computer virus that can wreak havoc on businesses and their operations. To deploy ransomware, hackers use encryption code to lock up targeted computer data and hold it for ransom. If victims want to regain access to the data, they typically have to pay a large sum of money. Learn how harmful ransomware can pose a substantial threat to supply chains.

Supply Chain Managers Beware

Supply chain managers around the world are on the lookout for ransomware within their database systems. This type of virus can cause serious delays in fulfilling customer orders, as well as a whole slew of other operational problems. For instance, a ransomware virus could take over an inventory file, render a business’ entire website unusable, or prevent a transportation company from accessing routing information. No business or industry is immune to ransomware.

Ransomware typically spreads through malicious websites and phishing emails, and anti-virus software isn’t always 100 percent effective at detecting these threats. The most harmful form of ransomware, however, comes from an employee planting a virus in a company’s computer network. This situation is nearly impossible to prevent and can be crippling to operations, especially if the business doesn’t have the funds to pay the ransom.

Options for Dealing with Ransomware

The best line of defense against ransomware is a combination of effective anti-virus software and a data recovery plan. With these in place, your business can access data regardless of a ransomware attack. You’ll need to take additional action, however, if the affected data contains sensitive customer information like billing information and addresses.

It’s also important to limit employee data access to an as-needed basis. Restricted access makes it harder for hackers to get to your data, too.

In most cases, it’s best not to give into ransomware demands because this further enables and incentivizes hackers to create more ransomware. You should only consider paying the ransom if you have no other choice and have already consulted with the FBI.

What to Learn from Previous Ransomware Attacks

One of the biggest ransomware scams to date happened between September 2013 and June 2014. During that time, more than 500,000 computers were infected with a virus called CryptoLocker, which extorted an estimated $3 million from victims. Even NASA reported that two of its computers were infected by CryptoLocker.

The FBI reported that between 2014 and 2015 businesses and individuals saw a loss of more than $18 million due to ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to stay ahead of anti-virus software. This means that businesses and supply chain managers must have a plan in place to handle ransomware. For instance, it’s important to create backup copies of all data on a regularly scheduled basis. Also, employees should be trained to be on the lookout for suspicious files and not download anything that is not critical to business operations.

So far, 2016 shows signs of continued ransomware attacks. This dangerous threat is something that all supply chain managers should vigilantly watch and prepare for.

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